TUESDAY, Sept. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) – The lax enforcement of age limits by many online marijuana dispensaries makes it easier for minors to buy weed, claims new research that looked at online weed sales in 32 states. “It is imperative to require strict age-verification procedures prior to cannabis purchases online and to establish stringent surveillance of online marijuana dispensaries to protect youth,” wrote the authors of the new study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The authors looked at age-verification policies and other practices of 80 online dispensaries. About 18.8% of dispensaries “required no formal age verification at any stage of the purchasing process,” according to the study. Meanwhile, more than 80% accepted “non-traceable” payment methods such as pre-paid cards or cash. These polices are “enabling youth to hide their transactions,” the authors noted. The issue, in addition to the law, is about what impact marijuana has on the developing brain, especially as potency of products has increased, the researchers noted. The pandemic saw a drop in marijuana use by minors, possibly because it was harder to get and use the drugs without notice, the New York Times reported. The new study also found that nearly one-third of online dispensaries allowed delivery across state lines. Among those that did, 95% would deliver to states that had different laws than the states they were…  read on >  read on >

Emergency medicine doctors someday might rely on consultation from artificial intelligence (AI) programs like ChatGPT to help them quickly and accurately diagnose patients’ ailments. A new study found that ChatGPT performed about as well as human doctors in diagnosing patients, when both are given the same set of clinical information. “In the end, they were pretty comparable,” said senior researcher Steef Kurstjens, a clinical chemist with Jeroen Bosch Hospital in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. “And as they’re pretty comparable, [AI] might be helpful to speed up the process or enhance the amount of diagnoses at the emergency department.” For the study, two-doctor teams and the artificial intelligence program each reviewed physician’s notes and lab tests for 30 patients treated in March 2022 at the emergency department of Jeroen Bosch Hospital. The researchers used a free version of ChatGPT and a subscriber version. The AI tools and the medical teams then compiled lists of the top five potential diagnoses for each patient, based on the information at hand. Because these were past cases, the researchers already knew what the exact diagnosis had been. Doctors had the correct diagnosis within their top-five list 87% of the time. By comparison, the free version of ChatGPT had the correct diagnosis listed 97% of the time, and the subscriber version of the AI program 87% of the time. “It’s a nice…  read on >  read on >

When some U.S. states made abortion illegal after the Supreme Court overturned the longstanding Roe v Wade in June 2022, women in those areas increased their searches for self-managed abortions. To come to that conclusion, researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) analyzed Google search results regarding self-abortion. “We found an increased number of searches in states where abortion had recently become illegal, suggesting that a lot of people in these states are trying to learn how to give themselves abortions instead of going to the doctor,” said lead investigator Sean Young. He is a professor in the departments of emergency medicine and informatics. “This has implications for increased emergency department visits for self-managed abortions in these states,” Young said in a university news release. This could cause increased problems for Black women who already face challenges with accessing quality health care. Black women receive abortions at a higher rate than white women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Online search results may return unsafe home remedies that could have life-threatening consequences for women who seek to self-manage an abortion,” warned Lidia Flores, from the UCI department of emergency medicine. And Dr. Carrie Chandwani, an associate clinical professor in UCI’s department of emergency medicine, added that “emergency medicine providers need to be prepared for any potential increase in injuries, complications…  read on >  read on >

Could an algorithm take your job someday? Concerns about artificial intelligence, or AI, are plaguing U.S. workers, according to a new American Psychological Association poll. Some workers are uncomfortable with the way their employers are tracking them, while others worry that AI will make their jobs obsolete. “Employers interested in investing in artificial intelligence systems must also invest in their employees, educating them about the role of AI and provide opportunities for feedback,” said Arthur Evans Jr., chief executive officer of APA. “The workplace is changing rapidly. Open and honest communication from employers can help relieve employees’ anxieties about the unknown and improve overall well-being, which is associated with higher organizational performance,” Evans said in an association news release. The APA poll surveyed more than 2,500 employed adults in the second half of April. Nearly 2 in 5 workers polled said they were worried that AI might one day make some or all of their job duties obsolete. About 64% of those who said they were worried about AI also said they felt tense or stressed during the workday, compared to 38% of those who were not worried about AI. Workers with a high school education or less were significantly more likely than those with a four-year college degree to be worried that their jobs would become obsolete — 44% to 34%. About 50% of…  read on >  read on >

Emergency room visits for injuries related to driving under the influence of cannabis skyrocketed in Canada after the drug was legalized there, a new study reports. In October 2018, Canada became the second country to nationally legalize recreational or nonmedical cannabis for adult use. While known cannabis-involved emergency department (ED) visits for traffic injuries were still rare, they grew by 475% over 13 years, with a sharper rise in accidents after legalization, the researchers found. “Our findings highlight a concerning increase in cannabis-involvement in traffic-injury emergency visits over time, with even sharper spikes following the phases of legalization and commercialization,” said lead author Dr. Daniel Myran, a post-doctoral trainee at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and a family physician at the Ottawa Hospital. “Conversely, alcohol-involvement in traffic injury ED visits did not increase over the study period, which suggests that legalization of cannabis has played an important role in rising rates,” Myran said in an ICES news release. For the study, the researchers looked at cannabis-involved ED visits for traffic injuries between 2010 and 2021, looking for changes after the October 2018 commercialization of the legal cannabis market, which expanded products and retail stores. The investigators reviewed data from more than 947,000 ED visits for traffic injuries in the province of Ontario. Annual rates of cannabis-involved visits surged from 0.18 visits per 1,000…  read on >  read on >

Another study is showing that artificial intelligence (AI) is as good as a specialist doctor in spotting breast cancer on a mammogram. But don’t expect computers to take over the job from humans, experts say. In a study that compared the mammography-reading skills of an AI tool with those of more than 500 medical professionals, researchers found that it was basically a tie. On average, both humans and AI caught about 90% of breast tumors, and correctly gave an all-clear to just over three-quarters of mammograms from women without cancer. That meant neither was perfect, and experts said it’s still unclear how AI will ultimately fit into breast cancer screening. Mammography has long been a routine experience for women. But mammography-reading may actually be the most challenging task in radiology, said Dr. Liane Philpotts, a professor of radiology at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. That’s because a mammogram is an old-fashioned X-ray — although in the United States, Philpotts noted, better-performing digital 3D mammography is increasingly replacing the conventional kind. Detecting a tumor on standard mammograms means hunting for subtle patterns — something that has proved difficult even for the best AI, said Philpotts, who wrote an editorial published with the new findings in the September issue of Radiology. “In this study, we’re still talking about imperfect sensitivity,” Philpotts said, referring to…  read on >  read on >